Thursday, June 13, 2013

With the Arrival of LTE on the iPhone 5 the LTE Era Has Began

LTE arrives on the iPhone. With Apple making LTE available for iPhone 5s in the Philippines, I think it is safe to say that the LTE age has arrived. Getting LTE on your postpaid smart iPhone is as easy as applying the latest iOS 6.1 update. Your unlimited data plan, become a unlimited LTE data plan. No word from Globe, but I was told during Globe iPhone launch that Globe iPhone data plans would also automatically become LTE data plans.

With the Apple iPhone now having LTE, this now gives you a wider choice on LTE handsets since you now have both iOS and Android options. The Apple iPhone 5 joins the Huawei Ascent P1, Sony Ericsson Xperia V and  ZTE T82 as the Philippines first LTE capable phones.

Why place so much emphasize on LTE support for the iPhone 5? When it comes down to the mobile handsets that have the consumers mind share, it really comes down to three models: the Apple iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III and Samsung Galaxy Note II. For so long as all three handsets in the Philippines did not have LTE, phones with LTE were largely ignored.

Now that the Apple iPhone 5 has LTE active, it truly becomes a cutting edge handset, which will have an incremental upgrade later this year. No matter how much you like the large beautiful Super AMOLED displays and quad core processors on the Samsung Galaxy S III and Samsung Galaxy Note II, they feel like last years handsets soon to be replaced by a LTE capable model, or by a whole new model all-together.

0.4-inches from greatness. The other beneficiary of LTE arriving on the is the Sony Xperia V, which is an excellent smartphone. The problem with the Xperia V is that it came with a 4.3-inch display when the Android standard for a flagship phone was a 4.7-inch or larger screen. With the Apple iPhone 5 toting LTE, the Sony Xperia V becomes its only equivalent competitor. LTE will allow the Sony Xperia V to arise from the large shadow cast by Samsungs Galaxys.

Carrier wars. The Apple iPhone 5 will bring greater public awareness of what LTE is, than all of the marketing that Smart and Globe have poured in for the past one and a half years. With greater public awareness, the fight for which is the best network will focus on which network has the wider LTE coverage.

Rappler has a updated list of Globe Telecom LTE locations and has confirmed download speeds as fast as 35 Mbps:

  • Manila Golf and Country Club, Forbes Park
  • The Residences, Greenbelt 1
  • Rockwell Nestle; Palanan Avenue; Rockwell Condominiums
  • Along Ayala Ave. Ext. going to Kamagong St., Along Ayala Ave. Ext. going to Gil Puyat Ave.
  • Towards Ayala Ave. going to Buendia; towards Ayala Avenue going to Edsa; towards Dela Rosa
  • EDSA; South Luzon Expressway (SLEx); A. Arnaiz Ave.; Bangkal
  • Jupiter St.; Kalayaan; Bel-Air 1 Village; Bel-Air 2 Village
  • Gil Puyat Ave.; Bel-Air 2 Village; Salcedo Village
  • Pasong Tamo Extension; Dasmarinas Village
  • H.V. dela Costa St.; Valero St.; Salcedo Village
  • Indoor coverage - Manila Peninsula Hotel, Makati
  • McKinley Road; Forbes Park; Dasmarinas Village
  • Indoor coverage - Makati Medical Center

Smart LTE is now available in eleven cities. Displaying a list would be too long, and it would be easier to simply display them on maps.

For more details on Smart LTE, click this link (Smart Communications).

With the LTE era having began, it looks like Globe and Samsung are caught playing catchup. 
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7 0 P3110 now at just Php9 990

Out shined by the Google Nexus 7, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is now selling at a reduced price of Php9,990. This places it 4K cheaper than the Google Nexus 7 which is priced at Php14,400. 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 has a 7-inch 1024 x 600 display, dual core processor and 16 GB internal storage, expandable via a MicroSD card slot. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 comes out of the box, with Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, but is upgradeable to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The 3G version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, the P3100 is available for just Php14,650, which is less than the 3G version of the Google Nexus at Php17,350.

Is the price drop enough to make you forego the HD display and quad core power of the Nexus 7?

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Note II

Samsung officially announced the Samsung Galaxy Note II at IFA in Germany. The new note has a larger 5.5-inch display as compared to the 5.3-inch display of the previous model. But the Galaxy Note II will be easier on the hand being a few millimeters narrower. This is because instead of the 800 x 1280 display on the old Note, the Note II gets a 720 x 1280 display.  This makes the new note taller but a bit narrower.

Like the previous Note, the display is a Super AMOLED display. Those hoping for a Plus display, it looks like that might be a thing of the past.

Physically, the Galaxy Note II takes its design queues from the Galaxy S III. It comes in white and titanium grey.

The Note is all about the S-Pen, and Samsung has improved the S-Pen with the Note II. Samsung has made the S-Pen longer, making it more comfortable to use. The S-Pen now has a rubber tip, to give it a more pen like feel when writing on the slippery glass. Pressure sensitivity is now up to 1024, from 256 of the previous Galaxy Note. This is of interest to those who like to do a little art work on their note. The S-Pen being so important, the Note II will actually warn you if forget leave the S-Pen on a table somewhere and start to walk away.

The Note II has also been given a feature called "Air View" which allows the S-Pen to interact with the UI by hovering over the screen in addition to touch input. This sounds similar to Sonys floating touch technology on the Xperia Sola.

Inside you find the same quad-core Exynos chipset you find in the Galaxy S III, but this one is clocked at a faster 1.6 GHz. RAM is upped to 2 GB. Combined this makes the Note II, Samsungs most powerful handheld device. The battery size has also been increased from 2500 mAh to 3100 mAh.

Its other specifications match the original Note, with an 8MP primary camera, secondary camera 16 GB of internal storage, expandable via a MicroSD slot and HSDPA+ connectivity. My only complaint about the new model is that, it still uses a physical and two dedicated capacitative buttons. 

All-in-all, the new Samsung Galaxy Note II is a significant upgrade from the original Galaxy Note. I expect it to hit Philippine shoes by October, with a price somewhere north of Php35,000.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

CES 2013 and the New WIndows 8 Form Factor

Looking at the coverage of the Consumer Electronics show, one of the main drivers this year is Windows 8. Intel has made touchscreen as a standard requirement for a laptop to be called an Ultrabook. For 2013, whether Ultrabook, Sleekbook or by whatever other name they are called, what you should expect more and more are touchscreen laptops. The question really is, what new form factor will be dominant.

Removal display.  One common solution is to have a display, that can be removed from the keyboard. This seems like a reasonable enough solution. But I think this suits the desk-bound office worker more. In the morning, drag the tablet and keyboard dock with you. When in the office, you can pull out the tablet component and bring the tablet part of it with you to meetings. At home, the keyboard dock will sit on your desk while you browse the web with your tablet while resting comfortably on your couch. 

Swivels, sliders and the like. The other solution is to find a way to rotate, swivel open the lid or having a sliding keyboard in such a way that it lies flat with the keyboard. When you use the device in tablet mode, you have the keyboard laying under it. This all sounds well and good, till you realize that you have a 2.8 pound tablet.

Keyboard integrated into the carry case. The solution of Microsoft, with its surface was to integrate a keyboard into the carry case. The good part is that in tablet mode, the device is as light as a tablet. The bad part is, even with the "Type" keyboard cover, tactile feedback is limited. This is my "favorite" solution among the three, but I have not bought one of these yet, which does tell you something. 

Leave well enough alone. The other option is just to replace the laptop display with a touchscreen display and not do anything else. Most likely, when I pick-up my next laptop, I will go with one of these. Really, I am happy with a keyboard and trackpad (an will be running Linux on it anyway).

Which of these solutions pans out as the new default, I do not know. What is your favorite hybrid solution?
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Sunday, June 9, 2013

How much does it cost to repair a damaged smartphone

Repairing smartphones can get rather expensive. Here are several examples of repairs friends of mine have made:

Apple iPhone 4

Problem: Unresponsive Home Button
Cause: Ware and tear cause 18 months of use
Cost: About Php6,250 + Local Tax

Apple does not repair iPhones in the traditional way by replacing the broken parts. Instead when a phone is repaired it is replaced by a refurbished unit. Cost of repair: US$149 (Tax Note Included) at the Apple Store of Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, USA.

The phone does come with a new one year warranty.

This one was repaired during a trip to the USA. It can be done through Globe Telecom (for Globe iPhones) for about Php10,000.

Samsung Galaxy S II
Problem: Cracked glass, LCD still working
Cause: Phone was sat on
Cost: Php7,000

Gorilla Glass is strong but not unbreakable. Sitting on your phone can bet rather expensive, A warranty is provided for only the parts replaced.

Samsung Galaxy S III
Problem: Cracked camera LENs
Cause: Phone was dropped onto concrete from around 1.5 meters 
Cost: About Php4,500

The phone was not in a protective case. Amazingly enough the case is not scratched.  A warranty is provided for only the parts replaced.

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